Stage 4: Lorient – Mur-de-Bretagne (172.5km)
Last year the Tour paid homage to the Spring Classics with a stage that featured cobblestone roads more frequently associated with Paris-Roubaix in April. This year’s homage to the Classics is Stage 4, which features some of the same short and steep climbs the riders raced over in La Fleche Wallone. Philippe Gilbert won Fleche Wallone this year – one of four races he won in the span of a few brilliant weeks of riding – and he has to be considered the favorite for winning Stage 4. This is especially true because the final two kilometers are uphill, and there’s no one better than Gilbert on short, steep, uphill finishes. Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck may rule the high mountain passes, but Gilbert is king of the short power climbs. All the same, look for opportunists to steal this stage, like Joaquin Rodriguez or Sammy Sanchez. In fact, just go look at the results from the 2011 Fleche Wallone; anyone who was a top-15 finisher in that race and is currently in this year’s Tour de France should be considered a potential winner of Stage 4.
Today’s Workout: 1:00 Endurance Miles (50-91% of Field Test average heart rate, 45-73% of Field Test average power) with HillAccelerations. (Click for CTS Field Test Instructions)
How to do it: This workout is actually a modification of the normal HillAcceleration workout I use. In the normal workout, you accelerate all the way over the summit and the start of the descent. In this version, though, you’ll be sprinting for a finish line at the top of the hill. Find a hill that takes 2-3 minutes to climb. Approach the climb at a moderate speed (13-16 mph). As the road starts to go uphill, bring your intensity up to about 90-95% of your field test power output in the first minute, and then increase to 95-100% of your field test power in the second minute. As you get to about 30 seconds or 200 meters from the top of the climb, accelerate to maximum power and speed so you’re sprinting for the top. Beginners should do two sets of three intervals, intermediate riders should do two sets of four intervals, and advanced riders should do two sets of six intervals. Take 5 minutes of recovery between intervals and 8 minutes of easy spinning recovery between sets.